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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. Break out the champagne - maybe a little early - because it is time for the puzzle.

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WERTHEIMER: Joining me now is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master Will Shortz. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Linda.

WERTHEIMER: So, Will, catch us up. What was the challenge last week?

SHORTZ: Yes. The challenge was to take the last name of a famous actor, drop the first letter and you'll get the last name of a famous artist. Drop the first letter again and you'll get the name of a god in classical mythology. What names are these? Well, the answer is: Charles Grodin G-R-O-D-I-N; remove the G and you get Auguste Rodin; and remove one more letter and you get Odin.

WERTHEIMER: About 1,300 of our listeners sent in the correct answer. And our randomly selected winner this week is George Bastuba of Brooklyn, New York. He joins us on the telephone. Congratulations, George.

GEORGE BASTUBA: Thank you. Good morning.

WERTHEIMER: So, George, how did you arrive at the answer?

BASTUBA: Well, we usually kind of lay in bed and listen to the puzzle together, my wife and I. And when we heard this one, we started working backwards really with gods and artists. Got kind of hung up on Picasso for a minute for some reason. And then, you know, got to Rodin and Odin and...

WERTHEIMER: And there you were.

BASTUBA: ...from there it was pretty easy to go back and find Charles Grodin.

WERTHEIMER: And, Will, you are at home enjoying a winter wonderland in the northeast, is that right?

SHORTZ: We had a lot of snow this past week, yeah. I was going to drive to Indiana this past Wednesday, but that was just as the storm was sweeping through the Midwest and northern Pennsylvania, so I decided to postpone.

WERTHEIMER: I think the right thing to do. So, Will, let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, George and Linda. This is a good two-person puzzle. And it's my annual new names in the news quiz. I'm going to give you some names that you probably never heard of before 2012 but who made news during the past 12 months. You tell me who they are. And these names were compiled with the help of Kathie Baker and Tim Goodman, who were players on previous year-end quizzes. Here's number one: Mohamed Morsi.

BASTUBA: Oh, he's the new president of Egypt, right?

WERTHEIMER: Absolutely.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Jeremy Lin.

BASTUBA: Yeah, former Knick. Now, is he a Houston Rockets guy?

SHORTZ: Houston Rocket, good. Went on a scoring streak last winter causing Linsanity(ph). How about this: Francesco Schettino, Francesco Schettino. And here's your hint: captain.

BASTUBA: Oh yeah. Is the captain of the ship that capsized?

SHORTZ: That's right. The Italian cruise ship, Costa Concordia. Your next is Gabby Douglas.

BASTUBA: She was on the Olympic team, gymnastics.

SHORTZ: That's right. Paula Broadwell.

BASTUBA: Yes, I know this one. Is she somehow related to the General Petraeus scandal, right?

SHORTZ: That's it. His biographer whose affair with him led to his resignation. Oscar Pistorius.

BASTUBA: Oh, he is the bladerunner, the guy with the prosthetic feet in the Olympics.

SHORTZ: That's right. First amputee to compete in the regular Olympics. Felix Baumgartner. Felix Baumgartner. And your hint is: balloon.

BASTUBA: Oh, yeah. He jumped out of the balloon, right, like, from space.

SHORTZ: That's right - 24 miles high, the highest ever. And he was the first human to break the sound barrier through his free-fall velocity. All right. Try this one: Malala Yousafzai.

BASTUBA: Yeah, I know this. I know the whole story, really. She was the little girl who shot by Taliban, right, on a school bus?

SHORTZ: That's right. Pakistani girl campaigning for women's rights and victim of an attempted assassination by the Taliban. Excellent. All right. Here's three names: Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich.

BASTUBA: Sound like tennis players. I don't...

(LAUGHTER)

WERTHEIMER: They do in fact.

SHORTZ: They're Russian, if that helps.

BASTUBA: Oh, they were punk rockers, right, and they were put on trial?

WERTHEIMER: Yeah.

SHORTZ: That's right. Russian punk band Pussy Riot went to jail for mocking Putin. All right. Your next one is PSY, and that's spelled P-S-Y.

BASTUBA: That's the "Gangnam Style"...

SHORTZ: "Gangnam Style" video - first video to get more than a billion views on YouTube.

WERTHEIMER: Very nice job, George.

BASTUBA: Oh, thank you.

WERTHEIMER: And you get, for playing our puzzle today, a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, plus puzzle books and games. And you can read all about it that npr.org/puzzle.

But before we let you go, what's your public radio station?

BASTUBA: We're members of WNYC in New York.

WERTHEIMER: Fantastic. George Bastuba of Brooklyn, New York, thank you very much for playing our puzzle. You did a great job.

BASTUBA: Thank you, Linda. It really is a dream come true.

WERTHEIMER: Will, you have a puzzle for this week?

SHORTZ: Yes, I do. And the challenge comes from listener Ben Bass of Chicago. And it sounds a little complicated, so listen carefully. First, name a U.S. state capital. Rearrange its letters to name another American city. Remove one letter from that and read the result backward to spell a third American city. And then, finally move the first letter of that to the end to spell a fourth American city. These cities are in four different states. What are they?

So again, a U.S. state capital, rearrange its letters to name another U.S. city. Remove one letter and read the result backward to name a third U.S. city. And then move the first letter of that to the end to spell a fourth U.S. city. What cities are these?

WERTHEIMER: When you have the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, January 3rd at 3 P.M. Eastern. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. If you're the winner we'll give you a call. You'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, Will Shortz.

Will, Happy New Year and thank you very much.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Linda. Happy New Year.

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